A Harvard nutritionist shares the No. 1 food she eats every day to keep her brain ‘sharp and focused’
As a nutritional psychiatrist, a big part of my job is advising patients — especially those who want to improve their brain health or are trying to recover from trauma — about foods they should incorporate into their daily diet.
There are many choices, including leafy greens such as spinach or kale and nuts like walnuts and almonds. Through years of research I have found blueberries to be one of the most effective in helping to age your brain well.
Consider adding half to one cup each day. As long as the blueberries have no preservatives, sugars or added juices they are good.
Here’s the reason I love blueberries: They are versatile, delicious, and easy to prepare.
1. These plants are rich in flavonoids
Blueberries contain flavonoids which are plant compounds that provide a range of health benefits. Studies have foundThis can help lower your chances of getting dementia.
Research suggests that people with a low-fat diet may be at a lower risk of cognitive decline if they eat at least half the daily recommended intake of flavonoids. 2021 studyThat surveyed 49,493 females with an average of age 48 and 27,842 males with an average of age 51.
2. These are rich in antioxidants.
Anthocyanins are a type antioxidant that give blueberries their distinctive color. Anthocyanins supportHealthy stress tolerance and antiinflammation, particularly in the brain.
The antioxidant phytonutrients — that is, plant nutrients — found in blueberries also quell inflammationProtect cells against damage by protecting the brain and body.
3. These are high in fiber.
I frequently speak about the profound connection between our gut and our brain — or what I call the “gut-brain romance.”
Fiber, like antioxidants reduces inflammation and supports the growth of “good bacteria”. Blueberries contain a lot of fiber which makes them great for all ages. improve our microbiomeImprove gut health and decrease inflammation.
4. They are rich in folate
Folate is an essential vitamin which allows neurotransmitters, chemical messengers inside our brain that regulate mood and cognition to function correctly, to function properly.
A deficiency in folate can lead to neurological disorders. It is possible to improve your folate status. beneficial effectson mental and brain health as well as cognitive age.
A small bag of blueberries is a great healthy snack that I can carry with me everywhere I go. Here are my two favorite blueberry recipes.
Blueberry and Watermelon Ice Pops
This simple recipe makes homemade ice-pops that are refreshing and mildly sweet. Watermelon is rich in vitamins A, C and B. You can make these treats with coconut milk or almond milk to get a creamier texture.
Servings:6- 8 Pops
Time for prep:10 minutes
- 2 cups of chopped seeded watermelon
- 1 cup almond, coconut or rice milk (optional).
- 1 teaspoon of fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon lime zest
- 1/4 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
- Blend the watermelon and milk in a blender.
- Add the lime juice, zest, honey and stir.
- Pour into stainless‐steel ice-pop molds until each mold is two‐thirds full, leaving room for the blueberries.
Chia Pudding with Nuts and Blueberries
Chia pudding can be a wonderful way to get started in the morning and does not require much preparation. You can make it ahead of time, as it needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Time for prep:10 minutes
- 1/2 cup canned organic light coconut milk
- 1/4 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 14 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
- Blueberries, nuts and a few
- Mix the coconut milk in a mason container. Add the honey, vanilla, and cinnamon. Top it with the chia seed.
- Put the lid on your mason jar and shake the container well until the seeds are mixed with the milk.
- Keep it in the refrigerator overnight
- Top with blueberries or nuts
Dr. Uma Naidoo is a nutritional psychiatrist, brain expert, and faculty member at Harvard Medical School. She is also the Director of Nutritional & Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of the best-selling book “This Is Your Brain on Food: An Indispensable Guide to the Surprising Foods that Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and More.” Follow her on Twitter @DrUmaNaidoo.